Zinc oxide

September 22, 2014

Zinc oxide (ZnO) is a common inorganic compound with a large number of uses. It is insoluble in water but soluble in dilute acids and bases. Its melting point is extremely high—1975 ºC, where it also decomposes.

ZnO exists in two common crystalline forms: wurtzite and zincblende. The zincblende structure is shown here, but wurtzite is more stable under ambient conditions.

ZnO occurs in the mineral zincite, but most of the commercial product is made by the high-temperature oxidation of metallic zinc or zinc ores. It is used extensively in diverse industries such as rubber, ceramics, medicine, food, pigments, and coatings. It absorbs ultraviolet light and is probably an ingredient in the sunscreen you used this past summer.

 

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